Sanlitun Dongwujie 3
100600 Beijing
E-mail: vertretung@bei.rep.admin.ch
Tel: ++86 10 6532 2736/ext. 219
Fax: ++86 10 6532 4353

SARS-Seite in Deutsch SARS-page in English Page SRAS en français
  Informations from the Consulate in Shanghai

LJG - Beijing, 27 April 2003

Business contingency planning

On 25 April, the Ambassador of Switzerland met with a number of representatives of Swiss companies employing large numbers of people in and around Beijing. The purpose of the meeting was to exchange information on the status of the situation in and around Beijing and on the measures taken by the companies with regard to prevention and contingency planning.

The level of impact from SARS felt by the companies depends on their field of business and their geographical location - even within the Beijing area. Companies in the service industry encounter difficulties enforcing preventive measures on some of their customers, as there is little support from the Government side (penalties etc.). Manufacturing companies are increasingly worried about production breakdown. Most say that the current panic in Beijing is as bad as the virus. However, all of them agree that this is the worst crisis China has been facing in years. So far, none of the companies has reported an actual or suspected case of SARS among their employees. None of the companies intend to repatriate their foreign staff or families. One company encourages the families of their expatriate staff to leave the country (on R&R or home-leave packages) and offers help for schooling of children where necessary. Meanwhile, the following actions were taken in response to the virus:
Preventive measures

  • Impose strict levels of personal hygiene on staff.
  • Take body temperature of staff upon arrival or more often.
  • Allow or even impose the wearing of masks and gloves among employees at workplace.
  • Have premises disinfected by specialists on a regular basis.
  • Installation of infrared water-taps (to avoid touching).
  • Transfer individual workplace to home of staff, if possible.
  • Organize lunch at company cafeteria in shifts (to reduce number of people in the room).
  • Restrict internal meetings to a maximum of 3 people.
  • Cancel all meetings, seminars and group gatherings within and outside the company.
  • Restrict or stop domestic travelling.
  • Erect "firewall" between local operation and overseas headquarters.
  • Concentrate unavoidable outside contacts (messengers, visitors etc.) to restricted area within the company premises. Deny access to outsiders.
  • Impose quarantine for local staff during May Day holiday (only one company went that far).
  • Prohibit use of public transport or taxis and organize shuttle transport by company.
  • Impose obligation to notify employer about contact with high-risk persons (SARS patients and their relatives, medical staff etc.)
  • Contact local hospitals to establish contacts and procedures in case of suspected infection among staff (this applies in particular to companies in the provinces).
  • Regular, detailed information on virus and prevention for local staff in order to contain panic.
  • Provide (for sale or for free) masks, gloves, disinfectant, traditional Chinese medicine etc. to staff in order to contain panic.

Contingency planning

  • Build SARS-committees on management level (for information gathering, government contact, contingency planning etc.).
  • Designate alternative in case one supplier stops operation because of virus.
  • Increase stock of supplies that are critical to production.
  • Introduce or prepare operation in shifts to prevent infection of entire staff.
  • Plan to reduce staff (vacation, unpaid leave), if operations decrease due to SARS.
  • In addition, Dezan Shira & Associates advise companies to consider the following items in their contingency plans (see http://www.china-briefing.com for details):
  • Back up all vital communications or project work and ensure copies and full instructions if operation must be passed to a remote location or third party service provider in the event an infection occurs.
  • Check whether main incoming telephone number can be re-routed to be answered at a remote location in the event your office is closed. Ensure telephone bills are all up to date and paid.
  • Conduct a complete overview of work and identify it by vitality. If you are legally contracted or obliged to carry out certain functions, or are close to business that would be affected in the event of a closure, you need back up.
  • Ensure all clients and suppliers contacts are identified with status reports and action plans written up in the event you need to pass this to a remote location.
  • Ensure you have contact details of family and relevant consular officials for all your staff, both Chinese and Expatriate. Inform them immediately in the event there is a problem. If staff are to visit doctors or hospitals ask them to inform you who they are seeing and which location so in the event they are quarantined you are aware of where they are.
  • If your premises are closed this is likely to be for a minimum two-week period during which a complete disinfecting routine may take place. For obvious reasons ensure all important files are backed up and vital records kept in a safe and secure location. It may also be an idea to ensure or to sub-contract security personnel to be on guard, particularly in factory premises, to ensure no petty pilfering or theft occur. Make provisions for warehousing of stock if these are scheduled to arrive during closure and advise all contacts of the down time, providing alternative contacts.
  • Your business is still obligated to conduct tax filings, payroll and other maintenance activities, such as payment of bills and so forth even if there is a problem.

Embassy of Switzerland

SARS-Seite in Deutsch SARS-page in English Page SRAS en français
  Informations from the Consulate in Shanghai
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